Summer InternTips: Your First Week

If you’re like me, you just finished your third day of your summer internship. You’re learning the ropes at your new job, and you’re just starting to get to know your boss, secretary and office mates. But you’re still learning the ropes. You still have to check in at the front desk as a visitor because your badge hasn’t been made yet. You’re still eating lunch alone in your office. You arrive five minutes later than you’re supposed to because you missed your bus stop. (Note: these all apply to me. It’s OK.)

Because here at 4E we know that you’re probably in the same boat, we compiled some tips for how to make your first week as productive to your internship as possible:

1. Get to know your office. Explore all of the possibilities your company, building, and neighborhood have to offer. A lot of buildings (especially on Capitol Hill) have special perks to like food courts, cafes, ice cream or fro-yo, or fancy vending machines. Some offices have green roofs for lunch breaks so you don’t have to eat in your office.

2. Learn the ropes of your work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is your first week — bosses expect questions, and always prefer them to incomplete or shoddy work. Now is the time to figure out how best to finish assignments so that you can do them consistently correctly for the rest of your internship.

3. Meet your coworkers, even the ones you won’t end up working with consistently. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to everyone. Basically, you don’t want to be the intern that no one knows the name of come July. Plus, think networking.

4. Start off on a good foot. Though you should expect to make some mistakes, be prompt, polite, and make an effort. Your bosses will expect mistakes as well, but they’ll be watching your work ethic and demeanor this week. Even if you make mistakes, making a good effort this week will help you secure more interesting and important projects later in your internship.

5. Save your money. Unpaid and paid interns alike, we all have thin wallets. So save your money by making your lunch ahead of time and bringing it to work, taking the bus ($1.50) instead of the Metro (with an upcoming price increase in July) or a cab.

6. Stay positive. Even if your week is rough (many of ours will be), the rest of the summer won’t be. Believe in yourself and your ability to learn how to do your job, meet other interns and network with your coworkers. The first week is tough for everybody. Almost certainly, next week will be better.

7. Link in with the greater D.C. intern community. D.C. in the summer is an exciting place with tons of other college students visiting us for the summer. Even though we here at Georgetown are blessed with a hefty set of connections in D.C., it is always a good idea to meet kids from other colleges at other internships. There are plenty of blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages dedicated to summer interns here. Most are only relevant to those who don’t have the privilege of living in D.C. during the school year, but they’re still good resources for anyone on the Hilltop with an internship.

Image credit: Vanity Fair

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